A Practice Integrated Curriculum
The Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics undergraduate curriculum gives our students hands-on, real world lab work in addition to a strong background in theoretical knowledge. The addition of interactive, design-centered assignments is creating educational experiences that are preparing Penn’s mechanical engineers for the problems they will solve in industry and research.
For generations, freshmen in mechanical engineering programs across the country have confronted the challenge of wading through a curriculum front-loaded with math, physics and chemistry, slowly working their way toward the reward of actually applying what they’re learning to the design and building of solutions to real-world engineering problems. Mark Yim, Professor and former MEAM Undergraduate Curriculum Chair, describes this previous, passive model of learning in which students were presented with information and given equations to reach a single right answer, devoid of any context beyond the classroom. “Students don’t necessarily work that way anymore. They want to see sooner how the theories they’re learning apply to the real world.” So MEAM faculty began implementing a practice integrated curriculum, designed to engage freshmen through seniors in applying theories which might otherwise be left on the pages of a textbook.
For example, in Machine Design and Manufacturing (MEAM 201), students work from mechanical drawings and design, model, machine and assemble the parts of a working Stirling engine. “You’re applying everything you’ve learned to make a physical engineering product, rather than just turning in a problem set,” says student Chris Xydis. “It’s a really exciting course,” says senior Amal Rahuman, highlighting the importance of prototyping skills. “As a Penn engineer, if you can go to a company and say, ‘I have the theoretical knowledge, but I also know how to make things…’ that’s what they’re looking for. So it’s really sculpting the curriculum in the right way.”
MEAM’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion:
The Penn Compact 2022 affirms Inclusion as a means toward the essential ends of higher education – equalizing opportunity, educating leaders for all sectors of society, and enriching the experience of all members of the University community. MEAM, as part of Penn Engineering, participates in and strongly supports initiatives that advance the University’s efforts to achieve an educational and employment environment that is diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, interests, abilities and perspectives. We strive to attract a diverse community of students and faculty, to provide an accessible, rigorous engineering education, and to improve our local and global communities through engineering. More information about Penn Engineering’s resources and programs can be accessed through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
To learn more about how the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics supports the mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion, click HERE.